Stephanie Lovekin – To the pretty girls, particularly the ones who don’t realize they are the commercially identified version of “pretty”. Or the kind of pretty that attracts male attention. Big bossoms, shapely curves, beautiful eyes. Yes, so many of you ladies.
First, I need to say that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder when it comes to relationships/romance how each person interprets their own beauty. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. You will discover your own inner and outer beauty with self-love.
Each person has a unique way of working toward self-love, there is no clear, one-size-fits-all path. I needed to love myself before I could accept love from others. I am thankful to be continuing my self- love journey.
I had an “ah-ha” moment today.
I never thought of myself as pretty, on the outside or inside. Through self-love I’ve accepted my imperfections, the ones I thought others see and therefore identified me as “ugly” or “unattractive.”
I’ve grown to love most things about me – but this did not change in my perception about whether others see me as “pretty.”
In working toward self-love there is no thought for other’s perceptions. It truly doesn’t matter what “they” think during that process.
Today someone was admiring my beauty. My first instinct was to laugh. As usual in my head I’m thinking, “they are buttering me up because they want something” or “there is some ulterior motive;” they just want sex, etc.
Then they described the physical features about me that are beautiful. The authenticity behind the words could not have been any clearer. No one has ever described my appearance in this way – that didn’t carry a sense of an intent for sex. In addition, they first described what they admire about me as a person. These were the things I learned to love about myself – in that moment I thought “they see me,” they “get” me and love me for who I am.
The conversation about my external beauty continued. I thought it couldn’t be true, that maybe to them I’m beautiful (eye of the beholder) but in general I am not beautiful. My evidence went as follows: because of the way some people in the past interacted with me. In school girls mostly disliked me, bullied me, boys treated me badly- so much disrespect. Girls spread rumors that I was sleeping around and boys would either try to have sex with me or brag to others that they did. They grabbed me in the “off zone” places in the stairways and halls. In grade school, I was once trapped under a stairwell by 2 boys who proceeded to grope me everywhere. This made me feel ugly and disgusting.
For these reasons I isolated myself. I withdrew and carried a label that I thought was assigned to me. I was not likable as a person and was too ugly to be around. I was only valuable enough to be groped. Because I withdrew, I started to carry the added label of “snob.”
In the conversation I also explained the challenges with male friendships as an adult. It would start as a seemingly good friendship but usually end up in a proposal for sex (without respect for the fact that I was married), which made me feel disrespected and brought back the “ugly” feeling. The person in this conversation then said, “this is because you are beautiful, it comes with the territory.” He acknowledged and empathized with the pain this causes, but explained that this is how some men can be toward a beautiful woman.
That’s when the light bulb went off! I’ve always been perceived as beautiful on the outside. But that beauty caused me to shrink as a person. I’m not really sure how to move forward with this realization.
My only thought right now is that I need to learn some strategies to improve my interactions with people knowing that there are unconscious biases toward women with beauty, on top of the unconscious biases toward women in general.
I’ve worked hard to clear a lot of my own unconscious biases. I now see the value in people based on who they are, their integrity, and how they treat people.
As a result, I’ve stopped using outward appearances to provide any judgements or assumptions toward a person. In working through that I realized I previously had unconscious biases toward women with outward beauty. I often would avoid them, seeing them as competition in some way. I would also assume that because they are beautiful that I was beneath them, that they were more successful, and had better lives.
Now I make it a point to start up a conversation, smile, make eye contact with these beautiful women; especially when it’s obvious that they avoid eye contact and conversing in general with other women. I’ve built some great relationships after enacting this change!
This makes me wonder if there are adult women who may have the same unconscious biases I once had toward beautiful women. This makes me a bit sad.
What makes me even more sad is the thought that there are younger girls with the “ideal” outer beauty who are experiencing the things I did and feel now what I once felt as a young girl. They feel like they need to “shrink” to avoid the negativity. This sounds like an easy problem to have, but it changed the course of my life.
If you fit the described persona and have found a way to avoid negative attention as a young person and carried it into adulthood with confidence – rock it, you beautiful soul! I will be out there making eye contact with you with hopes of learning more about navigating the world.
I am happy to see “empowering girls” movements, networks and events popping up at schools, community centers, and social networks. This gives me hope that beauty of all kinds is being embraced, that all girls may learn their value regardless of their outward appearance and life decisions, and that they accept each other regardless of outward appearances. In some circles, a recent buzz word for women and girls who support each other is “your Tribe” – I love it!! So fitting. Everyone should have a Tribe – or an amazing support network without strings attached.
Parents play a huge role with empowering young girls by minimizing judgement, reminding them of their worth, and celebrating their successes. This was lacking for me as a child – I think it would have made a difference.
Self-love has changed the course of my life – it has restored empowerment, helped me set boundaries to avoid negativity, and filled my whole life with love. I encourage girls and women who are or have experienced sadness, depression, and/or low self-worth to explore self-love techniques and find a good therapist who will validate your findings. Also, spend more time with the people that love you unconditionally- you know who they are. This is what saved me.
My outward appearance does not define who I am. “These are just the clothes that I wear.” Now…onward with my journey!!
Stephanie Lovekin is a full-time single mom of 2 boys, 13 and 21 years old. She has struggled with anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and lack of confidence, but has found support through talk therapy and tools such as mindfulness. Steph works full-time in a corporate setting and enjoys sharing her life lessons through blogging, in hopes others with similar struggles find connection through her experiences.